Tuesday, 6 March 2012

[GW2] IG or OOG? Your Extended Experience

If you’ve followed my blog for a while you’ll probably be vaguely aware that I used to be heavily involved in the Alternative Reality Gaming community. If you haven’t been reading for that long you might have at least noticed some odd comments made by certain readers which seem a little out of place. A while back a user called “A Pound of Flesh” commented:

Which might seem somewhat threatening until I tell you that he is a character played by a writer over at "I'll See You in Hell". He plays a serial killer who, after he stalks a young woman, begins to find himself the target of his own demon – the Slenderman. As a reader/player you follow him through his torment and interact with him through the blog and other mediums.

Now, I’ve chided ARG writers in the past for posting “In Game” on my blog (ie, posting in-character) – I’ve always considered this space to be very much OOG (out of game) meaning that as far as the characters in the game are concerned: this site doesn’t exist, and anything I say on here should not be used in their story. The game world and the world in which my blog (and the unforum) exists are two totally separate universes.

I was thinking about this kind of intrusion in terms of the upcoming Guild Wars 2 Extended project which ANet are working on. At the moment all we know is that it likely extends to a downloadable app.

But what if they took it a bit further? What if you could be contacted by text by an in game character (in the guise of some kind of telepathic link) would you be cool with that? Or would you see it as the game imposing itself onto a world where it wasn’t welcome? You could get a telepathic message from Queen Jennah imploring you to meet her at Ebonhawke to discuss battle plans. Your progression through a quest could require you to find a RFID code somewhere in the real world, scan it with your mobile and somehow send it to the game?

Some companies have used ARG elements in the advertising and promotion of games (notably Ubisoft for Assassin's Creed and Valve for Portal). Geocaching, RFID tags, flash mobs, community forums, blogs, YouTube, facebook, twitter, web-based radio, email, SMS, augmented reality, apps, GPS, online or real world character role-play – all of these are valuable tools to the ARG community, and there is no reason why the video game industry couldn’t start to use them regularly. One of the advantages which GW2 already has is a vibrant and interactive community, and these kinds of puzzles lend themselves to groups which can work well together remotely.

ANet have already experimented with ARG techniques – the “OBEY/DISMANTLE” campaign is an example of this, as is/was the Scribe (for those who remember back that far!); they are both examples of the game world bleeding out into the real world. I can’t imagine ANet introducing stories which are dependent on mechanics like these to progress, but in terms of side-quests and interesting festival events; I would relish the chance to put my exploration-head on in the real world.
I think it would be an interesting experiment - where do you want the game to end, and your world to start?

1 comment:

  1. Life is the ultimate dynamic event. How do you want to play?



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